This book is a fascinating and engaging portrayal of the course of the Second World War on the key Eastern front where the Soviet Union bore the brunt of the titanic struggle to defeat Nazi Germany. Rees is a prominent writer and producer of BBC/PBS historical documentaries on key facets of the Nazi era who makes brilliant and effective use of hundreds of interviews with surviving witnesses of the ways in which Stalin, Churchill, Roosevelt, and Truman competed, cooperated, and maneuvered for advantage amid the struggle to defeat the German juggernaut. Interestingly, as much attention as the author pays to documenting and describing the horrendous losses of life inflicted and suffered during the Second World War, especially on the Eastern front, there are only a handful of references to the annihilation of the Jews. The author clearly seeks to focus attention on aspects of suffering by so many, although in other books and documentaries Laurence Rees has devoted very substantial attention to the Jewish genocide. This highly readable book should be combined with the documentary of the same title, to get the benefit of historical words and images. Endnotes, index, photographs.
Robert Moses Shapiro teaches modern Jewish history, Holocaust studies, and Yiddish language and literature at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York. His most recent book is The Warsaw Ghetto Oyneg Shabes-Ringelblum Archive: Catalog and Guide (Indiana University Press in association with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Library and the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, 2009). He is currently engaged in translating Polish and Yiddish diaries from the Łódź ghetto and the Yiddish Sonderkommando documents found buried in the ash pits at Auschwitz-Birkenau.